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Will Beemer

2021 Askins Achievement Award Recipient

"Since 1978, Will Beemer was an instructor and co-owner with his wife Michelle of Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts. He continued to teach numerous Heartwood courses and design-build timber frame homes for over 40 years."

Since 1978, Will Beemer was an instructor and co-owner with his wife Michelle of Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts in Washington, Mass. He served Co- Executive Director of the Timber Framers Guild for 11 years. He was an avid sea kayaker, whitewater enthusiast, home brewer, and talented musician. Will continued to teach numerous Heartwood courses and designed and built houses for over 40 years.

Prior to Heartwood, Will was a design instructor at Cornell University as well as a construction foreman at the Arcosanti project in Arizona which combines architecture and ecology. He organized and taught building workshops around the world, including timber framing courses at Palomar College in San Diego, North House Folk School in Minnesota, and Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus. Will presented seminars on roof framing and timber framing at “JLCLive” the annual conference sponsored by the Journal of Light Construction. He wrote for Fine Homebuilding, Joiner’s Quarterly, Wood Design, Building, and Timber Framing. He was a major contributor to the best-selling Timber Framing Fundamentals and his latest book “Learn to Timber Frame” was published 2016.

Will was instrumental and influential in developing, organizing, and implementing the Apprentice Training Program within the Timber Framers Guild and was responsible for putting together the detailed and thorough curriculum required by the US Department of Labor to allow the program to qualify for government certification. The multiple and detailed competencies of the apprentices' curriculum included the standard timber framing skills such as Safe Work Practices, Drawings, Timber Management, Grading, and Finishing Techniques. It also included chapters on Conservation Preservation Techniques and Historic Timber Framing, which cover Historic Periods, Historic Tools, and Sustainable Harvesting. The program includes substantial timber framing architectural heritage and preservation methods.

During Will’s term as Executive Director of the Timber Framers Guild, he assisted the Guild in focusing on and training many preservation specialists, representing specialized skills in building types such as mills, steeples, covered bridges, and the study, documentation and restoration of regional timber frame typologies. The skills and knowledge derived from this training have resulted in multiple articles published by the Guild, including research sponsored by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training such as "Historic American Timber Joinery: a Graphic Guide." Will also conducted numerous focused tours of historic timber framing structures throughout Europe and the United States. He worked extensively with the other apprentice programs including the French Compagnon du Devoir, German Zimmermans, and Japanese master timber framers to bring those skills, standards, and methods to the United States.

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